“To err is human,” they say. And, that certainly applies to we runners being prone to running mistakes. It doesn’t matter if we are brand new, or a seasoned runner, we goof, and often repeat the very same running mistake! Take a look at the list of eight below to ensure sure you don’t sabotage your running performance/goals with these running mistakes. Addressing just one can make your future runs the best yet.
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1. Skip the Warm-Up
This first of these running mistakes is a biggie, and very common. It’s tempting to just start running when we are short on time, thinking we can just run slower initially to warm up. BUT, 3-5 minutes of a dynamic warm-up improves your range of motion in your joints, gets your muscles activated (tendons, ligaments, too), thus reducing your injury risk. Plus, your form will benefit, and your run will feel easier with a proper warm-up.
When the temperatures are low, cold temps further restrict blood flow (thus, tighter muscles). Therefore, take a few more minutes with a dynamic warm-up, and ease into your pace to ensure your muscles are properly warmed-up.
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2. Wear Shoes Too Long
Most running shoes’ life span is 300-500 miles (if you wear an insert, that can lengthen the life span). The risk of wearing shoes too long is, you guessed it, greater injury risk.
According to Ken Larscheid, owner of Running Lab in Pinckney, Michigan, a common sign for replacing shoes is when you get unusual aches and pains in certain areas. Besides unusual aches/pains, another sign is the grooves on your shoe bottoms are smooth. Or, uneven foam on one side of your shoe, indicating the sole is not level.
Instead of waiting to completely deplete your current shoe, try to overlap another pair as your current reaches its max mileage. Better yet, rotate two pairs while you train. “Rest time” for your shoes increases their longevity (shoes need recovery time, too).
3. Skip Recovery Runs
Interestingly, recent research shows that a recovery run is more important for increased fitness versus faster recovery. “Harder” workouts improve your fitness as you go far beyond the initial fatigue. Recovery runs, conversely, are done in an entire state of fatigue from the previous workout, even though they are shorter/slower than key workouts. This combination leads to better fitness.
The best time to perform recovery runs is ~within 24 hours of a hard workout, so they are done while you have lingering fatigue from previous training. Remember, recovery runs cannot be particularly long/fast as they will sabotage recovery from either the previous key workout or your performance in the next one. And, recovery runs are only necessary if you run ~four times a week or more. Last thing, aim to be able to converse during a recovery run.
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4. Inconsistency in Your Training
Of all running mistakes, this likely impacts your progress more than any other! According to this Runners’ World article, consistency is the most critical part of a training program. It is the rare topic that almost every coach, medical expert and physiologist agree on. With running, you must balance volume and intensity to improve your endurance, aerobic ability and form while avoiding injury. This means you must train frequently and consistently in order to make gains. Conversely, do too much, too soon, and you’ll need to rehab/recover before resuming your training.
Pls, the longer you maintain consistency (month in/out), the more you improve. Big improvements in running are tough to come by without transforming our body, and that type of transformation takes time. Staying consistent creates the changes that lead to better performance down the road. Read these tips to become a more consistent runner.
Running Mistakes, Continued
5. Avoid Strength Training
Long gone are the days of “just running” to be a better runner. Muscle imbalances and weakness can result in (you guessed it) running injuries. Proper strength training enables you to maintain good running form longer. Plus, strengthening results in a faster pace through better neuromuscular coordination and power! All that leads to improved running economy and stride. Need I go on?!
Focusing on solely legs, or your core is not enough. Strengthening should include the abs, obliques, lower back, hips, quads, hamstrings, calves, shoulder and chest muscles. Plus, the key is less about raw strength, and more about addressing strength imbalances. Exercises centered around functional strength training listed here give basic movement patterns to keep you running strong.
6. Skimp on Recovery
That includes rest days, adequate sleep, stretching, foam rolling, cross-training. Many runners focus on the volume, speed, and pace of their training. All of that matters, but what’s done outside of running is also important to be more resilient and stronger.
How would you feel on day three if you had no sleep for two nights? Without time to rest/restore, you would be exhausted, worthless! The same applies to recovery with running. It won’t be as dramatic or quick, but over time, it will lead to overtraining, fatigue, injury, burn-out, and potentially not meeting your goals. Rest right, and you’ll be faster and healthier. Skip it, and you may have to take off time due to injury! Read more here on why rest is so important for runners, and how often!
7. Running Mistake: Don’t Fuel Properly
Fueling is a fairly BIG topic, but suffice to say that you can’t ignore nutrition, and expect to get your best results. This applies to your meals/hydration throughout the day, plus pre/post run nutrition, and nutrition during your longer runs.
I have worked with a registered dietician who has a program specific to athletes, and it was extremely helpful in terms of my overall nutrition, plus pre-race, during race, and post (or run/workout)! Here’s her website if you want to check it out: Serena Marie RD. I highly recommend her!
Also, Runner’s World has some simple tips to get you started, keep in mind:
- Whole foods are your best bet (not relying on supplements)
- You will need hydration and nutrition for longer runs (ie anything +six miles)
- If 3+ hours have gone since you’ve eaten, have a pre-workout snack about an hour (at least 30 mins) prior to your run. Aim for a snack that is a combo of carbs and protein (mostly carbs!)
- Have a pint (16oz) of water/sports drink about an hour prior to your run
- Post run recovery – have a snack post run if your next meal is an hour+ away (when your body is most able to absorb nutrients which are critical for the body to repair and regenerate)
8. Running Mistake: Ignore Running Form!
< Related Post: How to Conquer Your Running Form with Less Effort >
While there is not a “one size fits all” for form, honing in on key adjustments can have a big impact. Good form allows you to run more efficiently, thus faster and longer (and you’re less injury prone). Remember to “check in” once in a while on your form during your run, especially with hard effort/speed work when fatigue can make your form get funky.
A few key pointers!:
- Head up with chin tucked and looking forward
- Shoulders relaxed and down
- Arms @ 90˚and don’t cross midline of torso
- Shorter stride so that shins are more perpendicular to ground when foot strikes (basically, better for your foot strike to be under you versus out in front)
- Slight forward lean without bending at the waist